Justyn Ross was one of the best players on the field in the College Football Championship Game, catching six passes for 153 yards to help Clemson defeat Alabama. Ross is an elite talent, good enough that he could play in the NFL right now.
Unfortunately for Ross, he’s a true freshman. Like his teammate, freshman quarterback Trevor Lawrence, he’s stuck in college because of the NFL rule requiring players to be three years out of high school before they can play in the NFL.
But Ross might only be stuck for one more year, not two. That’s because the XFL, which will launch next year, has already said it will take players who are less than three years out of high school. Ross and Lawrence would be obvious targets for the XFL, and although Ross told Bleacher Report that he has a good support system in place and a mom who wants him to get a college degree, he thinks other players will see the XFL as a better option than the NCAA.
“If [the XFL] is offering that kind of money, that’s hard for an 18- or 19-year-old to turn down,” Ross says. “If you really need that money, oh yeah, go do that. Something could happen. You can get hurt. Anything can happen. You have to take care of yourself because it can be over just like that.”
A player like Lawrence, who’s the early favorite to be the first overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft, is unlikely to consider the XFL. The money he could make by playing in the XFL in 2020 is minuscule compared to what the NFL will be offering him a year later. And Ross sounds like he’s likely to wait for the NFL as well. But if the XFL can convince even a few highly talented freshmen and sophomores to leave their NCAA eligibility behind and play in a new professional football league, it will be a good way for the XFL to recruit talent and generate attention — and a good way for players to turn pro when their only other option is remaining amateurs.